Social Networking was born in a collegiate setting and it has been battling the (alleged) youth-targeted reputation ever since. It has multiple detractors as many professional organizations refuse to see the value in it and many individuals struggle with maintaining their privacy while maximizing the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Privacy concerns range from the vain, of someone posting an unflattering picture of you and tagging it so that the world can see where you were Friday night, to the critical like someone defaming your (online) reputation. I, too, struggle with the balance of the proper amount of privacy versus assuaging the sharing=good mentality that pervades our culture.
Another common complaint on public social networks is that because the field is so large from which to draw, it does not take long to have “friends” on your list who are — at best — acquaintances. Sure, you can adjust privacy settings, create lists and block people, but why not look at this from a different perspective? Your membership organization may face the same question as you peruse your membership list. Who are these people and why haven’t they been more involved?
This morning I decided to start reaching out to the multitudes of people who are my “friends,” targeting those who I have little, to no, contact with. Some of them I haven’t spoken to since we were in grade school and the Pony Express was the latest form of communication. They friended me/joined my group. Why should the onus be on them to “participate” or engage with me further (if I am doing nothing on my end other than casting my witticisms out onto the web)?
So I’ve set a personal goal for myself to reach out to two of them a day, in the form of a message, wall post, phone call, etc., just to let them know I’m thinking about them. Topics are endless (since I haven’t talked with them in years) but I can always comment on something I’ve seen recently that reminded me of them or send congratulations for something they’ve done, you get the idea. Maybe these people will ignore my message or maybe we’ll reconnect and they’ll be more than just a profile to me. Either way, it doesn’t hurt me and actually I feel good about it.
What do you think? Good idea or not? Will you reach out to the lurkers in your community or organization? Ask them what their interests are, congratulate them on a recent life event and turn a membership into a friendship.